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By Gary Rose on 22/10/21 | News

 

How useful is an Ultimaker S5 with material station?

Pretty damn good!  It allows us to print in different materials with different support material if required with little or no set up.  We run two glass build plates so as soon as one print finishes, we remove the model and build plate, replace with a clean one and it's ready for someone else to use right away.  We even use it remotely from home by connecting remotely with our office computers and sending prints direct to the printer.

3D printing is not perfect and there are always issues.  For a larger more complex print we always ensure someone is on hand to check that all is well for the first hour or so just in case there is a problem.  We had to replace the print head once after a catastrophic disaster where a large complex build lost adhesion to the build plate quite early on and ended up turning the print head into a giant ball of plastic!  Lesson learnt!

Some material are not possible to run through the material station.  We have failed to reliably print in TPU as the route from spool to print head is too torturous for the soft material and it gets stuck!  Polyprop is currently working reliably but we have similar issues.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Ultimaker S5 was to give us an easy to use, reliable print solution in house to allow us to print development ideas as and when we need them.  We rarely use it to print customer facing prototypes unless they are for functional demonstration only.  The Ultimaker S5 has turned out to be a valuable addition to the development team and we could not continue without it.  We still have much to learn about using it and would like to explore interesting materials as well as innovative ways to use it.

By Simon C on 18/08/21 | Informative

 

Much of what we buy is manufactured abroad, predominantly in China. This is usually cost driven. If it is cheaper to manufacture offshore, then would it not be cheaper to design and develop your product where it is going to be manufactured? Well, yes; potential vendors will offer design at a reduced rate or for free as part of the manufacturing contract. A tempting win for both sides? Actually, this approach is fraught with risk. Here’s why: 


The design of your product could be compromised. Offshoring risks communication problems; no common language and mismatched time zones are barriers to clear and quick exchange of information. A lack of understanding of your market, customer and associated regulatory requirements could also impact your product resulting in sales and profits that never reach their full potential.   


Where design is included as part of manufacture then the development of your product becomes an overhead to be minimised. Less value is attached to the importance of spending the time to get it right for the long-term success. If the design resource is hidden behind a manufacturer, then quality and track record are difficult to determine and there may be no alternatives on offer. 


There is also the concern that your design data gets into the wrong hands with a copy of your product appearing shortly after your product is launched. Even with intellectual property protection in place, any dispute will take time and money to resolve and will come with inherent communication problems. 


So, there are downsides to overseas product development but what about UK-based product design? To start with the UK has a world-class creative sector. It delivers inherent strategic and commercial benefits leading to business growth. This is possible because the UK is at the forefront of design education. This feeds into a large, diverse and effective product design sector. There will be a match for your product development needs.  


UK design works in the global marketplace so if you market is in the UK, EU or worldwide then there will be the experience to deliver the right product. UK or overseas manufacture can be managed effectively with reliable and trusted vendors recommended, problems anticipated and avoided. 


There are more basic advantages: You and your design company share the same language and working hours, so communication is easy and responsive. Meetings are easy to arrange and there are no cultural misunderstandings. 


Product design is going to be a small proportion of the total cost to market but investing in UK design to get it right dramatically reduces the risk and expense of developing and manufacturing the wrong product. UK design is ideally placed to deliver the right product for your market. 

By Gary on 22/07/21 | Product Design

By Gary Rose on 06/05/21 | Informative
A lot has been written and talked about on the subject of sustainability and the circular economy.  Many books have been written on the subject going into great detail, but in this blog I want to address the subject from the point of view of a start-up or existing business that does not have sustainability running through their veins yet.  What practical things can be considered in developing new products without having to rethink your entire business model?

Let’s dig in and take a look.

If you look around, there are lots of stories showing examples of how new businesses are using the principles of the circular economy at their core.  Renting products instead of selling them; changing the way products are delivered to the public using refilling strategies etc; there are examples of companies exploring ways to use naturally sourced materials in new and interesting ways, even researching, and inventing new materials.
For me, this kind of news story makes it feel like an untouchable strategy to consider for companies who just want to design, make, and sell traditional tangible products like tape measures or torches or scissors etc.  It feels so unachievable that many companies are doing nothing!  What can these companies do to contribute now?  Remember, Rome was not built in a day, so it is unlikely you are going to succeed in achieving high sustainability right off the bat, but a start would be a good thing, right?
 

These are my simple design principles to consider for a new product.

Design for product longevity – The tech company ‘Ring’ still use the same design on their fourth version of their door camera product!

Design for repair – make the product easy to repair and introduce a repair service into the business.

Design for material optimisation – use less material to do the same job.

Design using recyclable materials where possible.

Avoid joining different materials making them hard to recycle at end of life.

Design for standardisation across a range – parts from one product are used in others.

Design using ecologically sourced materials rather than plastic where possible.

Standardise Packaging – one packaging solution is used for all products.

Create a set of measurable aspects to a current or new design – Score the product for sustainability for each aspect to see where the next product can be improved.

The following principles are a little harder to implement but should be considered.

Design the business to recover the products at the end of their life. Think about ways these old products can be re-used in some way.  Maybe the use of standardised parts means these can be re-used.  A tech product could be upgraded without throwing most of it away.

Think about packaging – can it be reused?  Selling products in reusable packaging that can be returned for a discount for instance so it can be used to ship another new product?

Introduce upgrade schemes, where new products are discounted with the return of old ones which are then refurbished and sold again.

Finally, these principles are getting into redesigning the business as well as the products.

Consider changing the business model of selling your products.  is there a business case for renting them and controlling the parts, materials, and end of life this way?

Think about collaboration with other companies to either use their by-products in your product or vice versa.

Consider collaborating with a company who will handle the repurposing or recycling of your end-of-life products specifically

If this short blog has piqued your interest in sustainability and designing for a circular economy, I suggest you check out sustainability illustrated https://www.youtube.com/user/learnsustainability for some great illustrated explanations on YouTube.  Also check out the Ellen Macarthur Foundation here https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/
 
Get in touch with a product design consultancy and see how they can help steer your next product development in the right direction.

By Gary Rose on 22/04/21 | News
 
 
Garry Moore and Will McLaughlin approached Cube3 with their new venture to develop an innovative water saving toilet for the home.  We had worked with Garry and Will previously on the Propelair commercial toilet project, helping solve many engineering hurdles along the way.  Garry's new venture is the 1.4ltr air flush toilet for the home called Velocity.

Cube3 have been working closely with Garry and Will to develop the Velocity toilet and basin and will continue as part of the development team solving all of the engineering challenges that lie ahead.

We are really excited to be part of the team and seeing this development through to production.
 
By Gary Rose on 29/03/21 | Product Design

 

I saw a post recently on a job site. "What is the role of a product designer? I find myself intrigued to uncover what the role entails. Is it design? Is it management? Is it research? Does everyone define the role in the same manner?  Anyone have thoughts on this?” The first answer back was "It’s a bit of everything”

In Wikipedia’s entry for product design it says "Due to the absence of a consensually accepted definition that reflects the breadth of the topic sufficiently, two discrete, yet interdependent, definitions are needed: one that explicitly defines product design in reference to the artefact, the other that defines the product design process in relation to this artefact.”

So it’s a difficult discipline to define then!  Let’s have a go at defining it here in 2021.

Product design is broadly speaking the effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products.  But it’s more than this.  It is in fact a mixture of many varied disciplines some of which are listed below.

  • Product design is about research – understanding users and how they interact with products, understanding the competition and market statistics.
  • Product design is about ideation – understanding and defining problems and exploring solutions for user experience, functionality and form.
  • Product design is about styling – considering ergonomics, aesthetics and human factors.
  • Product design is about engineering – creating parts to meet specific requirements, tolerances, mechanisms and drawings.
  • Product design is about manufacturing – making things simple and keeping costs low.
  • Product Design is about strategy – helping businesses understanding how they can benefit from design.
  • Product design is about collaboration – pulling together various key personnel within a company and bringing in expertise where needed.
  • Product design is about compromise - understanding the wants and needs of many and distilling these down to the right solution.
  • Product design is about branding – understanding how a product will enhance brand values.
  • Product design is about evaluating – building prototypes to test form, function & experience.
  • Product design is about project management – orchestrating how a product will be developed and launched.
  • Product design is about sustainability – considering social and economic benefits, product life cycles and final disposal.
  • Product design is about story telling – communicating a product’s meaning to the target audience.
  • Product design is about packaging and point of sale – understanding how packaging can enhance a product.

Product design is about all of these aspects.  The role of design in modern business is more important than ever in our unpredictable and ever changing world.  Product design is about exploring new ideas; about making your product stand out from the sea of alternatives; about making users love the product and everything it stands for, and about making your company love its own products because they’re cost effective to build and make profit!

There is so much that can be written about the role of product design, but hopefully this gives you an insight into some of the key elements.  Go and talk to a design professional today, and see what they can do for your business.

 

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